If you’re prepping for your first snowboard trip and debating whether to splash out on your own gear or head to the hire shop, here are a few thoughts to help you weigh up the pros and cons.
Snowboards aren't cheap. If your wallet’s tight and you only plan on snowboarding a few days a year, renting may well work out cheaper, especially when you take into account the excessive extra baggage charges that airlines tag on nowadays.
While rental boards might not always look like the real deal, in reality, a super rad top sheet is not going to affect the way you ride, so unless you’re a shameless poser, don’t let that be the decider. That somewhat retro looking board is probably going to do the job just fine, or at least until you realise your riding style. Once you've got that sussed you'll be more clued up as to the shape, flex and length of the board to go on and buy.
One way of trying out new gear is to look out for brands and shops doing demo days where you can have a go on the latest kit. If you're destined to UK dome riding, check out The Big Bang demo tour which will be kicking off its round of the UK snowdomes 28th September 2013.
While picking a board is what triggers most of us to go into unashamed geek mode, snowboard boots are considered to be a much more important first purchase, mostly because if they don’t fit properly they can cause pain, discomfort and ultimately affect the way you ride.
Nowadays most boot brands cater to different feet shapes, such as providing wide and narrow fits, and the majority of boots now come with heat mouldable liners to shape boots precisely to your feet. Rental boots obviously won’t have this luxury and are likely to have passed through a fair few pairs of feet before they land with you. The knock on of this, aside from lingering smells, is that cushioning and support may well be limited, which is why we'd be less enthusiastic about renting boots than a board. If you’ve only got budget for one bit of gear a decent pair of boots is what you should blow it on.
While bindings might look like a pretty basic piece of equipment, they’re the sole connection between you and your snowboard so are actually deceivingly technical. However, for a beginner, a set of rental bindings should do the job well enough.
When you start to think about buying a set of your own you’d need to consider what style and flex would best match your setup, therefore like with your board, it’s best to have had at least a feel of the mountain before you start making these kinds of decisions.
In a nutshell...
- If you only snowboard a few times a year, renting might work out cheaper
- No transportation costs or hassle of getting your gear out to the resort
- No equipment maintenance to deal with
- Gives you an opportunity to try out gear before you buy
- Some shops now come to your accommodation so there's no need to go traipsing about to get your gear
- Limited hire options, a tendency of 'one type fits all'
- Gear can be outdated
- Sorting out your equipment can eat into your holiday time
Should you opt to hire here are a few pointers to bear in mind:
- Be prepared to think about the kind of equipment you want before you head to a rental shop so that you can explain your needs to a technician.
- If you don’t think the equipment you’ve been given is right for you, don’t be scared to speak up.
- To avoid wasting precious mountain time, try and sort out your gear hire the day before rather than on the morning you want to be heading up the hill.
- Do some research and seek out an independent snowboard shop to hire your gear from. While a lot of chain shops are still way behind, independents are likely to have a wider range and maybe even some demo boards for you to test.
- Look out for specialist snowboard chalets that often have their own test centres or will be able to point you in the direction of the best shops.